Unexpected Consequence of COVID-19 Crisis: Empty Emergency Rooms

From Inside Sources:

An anxious ER nurse in Los Angeles took to Facebook recently to ask whether any of her colleagues nationwide were experiencing layoffs because hospital emergency rooms are virtually empty — one of the most surprising unintended consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

“This doesn’t seem to be talked about at all… People are losing their shifts and paychecks and jobs,” the L.A. nurse wrote. “We only had 5 people in the whole ER when they sent me home. My agency sent out an email blast basically saying that there are a lot of people struggling to find shifts.

“So, I’m curious if any other nurses are experiencing this?”

The response to her post was overwhelming.

White House considers using hospital relief funds to pay for uninsured

From Modern Healthcare:

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that the Trump administration is considering using $100 billion that Congress designated for hospital relief to pay for COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured.

“The White House Coronavirus Task Force is working on a proposal for the president to use some of the $100 billion we are making available to hospitals to compensate the hospitals directly for any coronavirus treatment they provide to uninsured Americans,” Pence said.

Choosing to use the provider reimbursement fund to pay for treatment for the uninsured instead of reopening enrollment for the Affordable Care Act exchanges could potentially shift costs from insurers to hospitals and siphon hospital funds away from a hotspot like New York toward states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act such as Florida and Texas.

‘Unprecedented’ COVID crisis sparks new Pritzker order, shielding doctors, hospitals from ‘plague’ of post-crisis lawsuits

From the Cook County Record:

Illinois hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities responding to the COVID-19 outbreak have been granted some legal protection by the state, potentially shielding them from suffering an outbreak of post-crisis malpractice lawsuits brought by trial lawyers.

On April 1, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order, extending legal protections to hospitals and a variety of other health care facilities and health care providers who the state says are “rendering assistance” to Illinois’ efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

It marked the 19th executive order signed by the governor since he issued a disaster proclamation on March 9 over the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois.

In the document, filed as Executive Order 2020-19, Pritzker cites authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Act and the state’s Good Samaritan Act to grant broad protection from “civil liability” for “health care facilities, health care professionals and health care volunteers”  who are “’rendering assistance’ in support of the State’s response” to COVID-19

Indian Health Service, rural areas to have priority access to rapid coronavirus tests

From Politico:

Rapid point-of-care coronavirus tests will be used to support areas of the country with the least access to testing, as well as nursing homes, White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx told reporters today.

“These are new tests, and we have prioritized the groups that we think have the least access to testing now,” Birx said. Priority will be given to the Indian Health Service and rural areas that do not have access to labs that perform high-volume coronavirus tests, she said.

COVID-19: Emergency Medicine Physician Empowered to Shape Perspectives on This Public Health Crisis

From Cureus:

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) has sparked a remarkable public response in the United States. The following publication highlights the integral role that Emergency Medicine (EM) providers are afforded as a result of the public health circumstances. By embracing the unique outlet of direct patient coordination of care, EM providers can correct public misconceptions and promote more appropriate social distancing practices to the greater community.

CDC head: Up to 25 percent of those with coronavirus never show symptoms

From The Hill:

As many as 25 percent of people with the coronavirus may never show symptoms, says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield.

In a Monday interview with NPR, Redfield said that COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, spreads “far easier” than the flu, in part because it appears people can spread the virus up to 48 hours before they feel sick, if they even show symptoms at all.

“This helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country because we have asymptomatic transmitters and we have individuals who are transmitting 48 hours before they become symptomatic,” he said.

ACEP Mourns Loss of First Emergency Physician to COVID-19

Press release

About learning of the passing of an emergency physician from East Orange General Hospital in New Jersey due to symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened to learn that a former ACEP member and our current colleague on the frontlines—an emergency physician—has lost his fight against this virus. Emergency physicians understand that sometimes in our efforts to save your life, we may end up sacrificing our own. This is not a decision made lightly or a post abandoned in times of need. We know the risks of the job we signed up for, but we are on the frontlines in this historic war against COVID-19 with insufficient protection.

There are dire shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in emergency departments across the country, and despite efforts to ramp up production, we do not see significant relief in the near future. America can’t afford for more emergency physicians and other frontline health care providers to get sick or worse due to PPE shortages.

In times of loss, emergency physicians take what’s called ‘the pause,’ a moment shared between health professionals meant to halt the fast pace of emergency medicine and provide a chance to reflect. The pause gives everyone a chance to honor the significance of the day’s work and the solemn responsibility of holding a life in your hands. This is never easy. It is especially difficult when the loss is one of your own, part of your family. Tonight, we pause and invite you to join us.

We recognize that the stress of living and working in this environment is without precedent and can be difficult to manage. This evening at 8 PM EST, while many of you are safe at home, please stand with emergency care teams and take the pause in honor of a life lost on the frontlines. And remember, you can do your part to help emergency physicians by staying home and take the appropriate steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

ACEP is providing up-to-date patient guidance and resources at www.emergencyphysicians.org. ACEP is coordinating PPE donation through GetUsPPE.org.

Please note: The emergency physician mentioned in today’s announcement is not the previously mentioned physician who was in critical condition but is now off a ventilator and breathing on his own.